Post-baby fitness plan for new moms

Sep 15, 2011 at 8:52 a.m. ET

Now that the excitement of bringing your new baby home has died down, you're probably wondering how to get rid of that jelly belly. Just as it took you nine months to look the way you do, it’ll take you some time to get back to normal. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get there by sitting around with your baby and watching television or surfing the Internet. You’re going to have to work for that hot bod now, Mama. Develop a fitness plan to get you started and help you stay on track.

New mom with stroller

1Start slowly

You may want to start doing sit-ups the moment you catch a glimpse of that post-baby pooch, but that's not the best idea. Talk to your doctor or midwife about the best time to start working out. Depending on your activity before birth, he may tell you two to three weeks, or he may ask you to wait until your postpartum checkup at six weeks to start any strenuous activity. If you've had a cesarean section, you may have to wait even longer. Remember, giving birth is quite an ordeal, and it's going to take some time for your body to heal.

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Gone are the days when you could simply eat a little less and watch your waistline shrink. If you want to shed those excess pounds, you're going to have to exercise. How much exercise you get and what type you do will depend a lot on your abilities and your schedule, so finding something that works for you is important. Find exercises that you can do in 10- to 15-minute intervals between feedings and diaper changes. Ask your hubby or a nearby relative to watch your baby for an hour a few times a week so you can have a little "me time" and get in a good workout.

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Cardio – A good cardio workout is an important part of burning calories. Start off small with a 30-minute walk every day. You'll be surprised how much you can get your heart rate up by pushing a stroller around town. Work up to longer walks, or even to jogging or running if that's your thing. If you're not the outdoorsy type, try putting on an exercise video or just dancing around the house with your baby.

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Abdominal workout – Your uterus and ligaments will go back to normal on their own, usually about six weeks after birth. Sadly, the same can't be said for your stomach muscles. You're going to need to do some crunches if you ever want to see that flat belly again. Start off small, with just one set of 10 crunches a day. Use an exercise ball to take some of the pressure off of your back, especially when you first start out. Once you begin to build those muscles back up, work your way up to four sets of 20 crunches.


New mommies have to be careful about dieting; proper nutrition is a big part of the healing process in those first few weeks after baby. It also helps give you energy – something you'll be running low on anyway in those first weeks of motherhood. In fact, breastfeeding moms need extra calories every day to help them produce enough milk. Talk with your doctor about a recommended calorie intake to help you get back to your pre-baby weight.

Diet or not, every mom can make sure the food she eats is low in fat and high in fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains. These foods will give you the fuel you need to get through the day without hindering your weight-loss progress.

Start working on your post-baby body while you're still pregnant. Moms who exercise and gain the recommended amount of weight during their pregnancies tend to lose the weight faster.

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